Maryland emergency responders train for large-scale events

More than 130 Maryland emergency responders recently joined first responders from across the U.S. to train at FEMA's Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston, Alabama.

The responders included members of the Baltimore Regional Incident Management Team (IMT), which spent more than a year planning its training operations to respond to a major incident. Baltimore is part of the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), a designation given to select high-threat, high-density urban areas.

"We worked closely with Baltimore's Regional IMT to meet their training needs and goals and provide a training and learning environment that mirrored a realistic incident to a mass casualty event," Bernice Zaidel, the assistant director of curriculum development and evaluation at the CDP, said. "The after action review process identified areas of improvement for CDP and the Baltimore IMT. The CDP offers a flexible environment where many scenarios can be modified to best meet the needs of the audience. The week's activities allowed the Baltimore IMT to work closely with class team leaders to effectively plan and execute for any type of hazard or event."

The IMT and other students trained in five different courses on hazardous materials, emergency medical services, law enforcement, fire services, healthcare and emergency management.

"This type of training allows our team to deploy to an unfamiliar location and unknown situation and manage the incident on arrival," Richard Freas, the program manager for the Baltimore Regional IMT, said. "Bringing our IMT here is a new concept and I believe we've developed a program other IMTs can use."

The training at the CDP allowed Baltimore's Regional IMT to exercise its ability to manage an incident involving multiple disciplines. The training was meant to maintain proficient emergency incident and disaster management skills.

"Any city or region that can come here and train together will work much better as a team if something bad happens," Freas said. "The experience here identified processes and procedures that can change and made us more familiar with other regional departments, which made us more cohesive."

The CDP prepares tribal, local and state first responders to prepare for and respond to major accidents or manmade events.